Category Archives: Doula

Becoming The Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description

Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.

My Review:

I was not sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I had heard good things about it and was looking forward to it. It went in so many different directions than I thought it would. I throughly enjoyed this story.

This book would be classified as women’s fiction without a focus on romance, while there are hints of it, it is more about the relationship and life issues the characters faced. The story was beautifully interwoven with hard life stories, with the HGTV cooking show feel in the middle of it.

One of my favorite scenes was a labor scene. I thought the beautiful descriptions without being dramatic, gross or anything offensive in the labor scene was one of the highlights of the book. It takes talent to do that.

I would highly recommend you pick up this story, especially if you are looking for something with some good discussion and will make you think.

This book is available for purchase from your local booksellers and Amazon.

“Becoming The Talbot Sisters”

This book was obtained from BookLook bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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Touching Bellies, Touching Lives: Midwives of Mexico by Judy Gabriel


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Judy Gabriel gives humble, authentic voice to the personal experiences and practices of scores of traditional midwives in rural Mexico. The midwives talk about their childhoods, marriages, losses, rituals, and techniques. The rich narratives describe childbirth before modern medicine redefined it.
Intended to engage, enrich, and inspire, Gabriel’s work tells of the women who received generations of babies into their hands when knowledge about childbirth came from women’s bodies, from instinct, from dreams, and from other women. The stories unfold in the context of high-intervention obstetrics and soaring Cesarean rates, a world that often degrades women and violates the sanctity of birth.

My Review:

I was unsure of what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at the content in this book full of stories. As I read I was amazed at while some of the practices of the midwives from Mexico were a bit barbaric in our modern medical minds, they had some very practical ways of dealing with things we classify as emergencies. The perspective of this book being written from the standpoint of a doula, that is knowledgable, but not medical was especially appealing to me. Ms. Gabriel takes down the interviews with a long list of midwives from all over Mexico. As we travel with her over time and years, you will find yourself wondering what we can learn from the hands of these skilled women that have fallen by the wayside.

This would be a great book to gift to any midwife that you know, or if you are a birth worker, to have on your shelf to look back on and learn from.

You can purchase it here… Touching Bellies, Touching Lives...

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Expectant Parents by Suzanne Gosselin

While many books for new parents focus on prenatal development and the health of a mom-to-be, Suzanne Hadley Gosselin‘s Expectant Parents core purpose is to help new parents understand key issues related to the arrival of a new child in the home, offering practical assistance as they prepare themselves for long-term family success.


Learn ways to strengthen your marriage relationship, set plans and expectations for parenthood, increase communication, and prepare for the new stage of your family life. Pick up a copy for yourself or for expectant friends and enter for a chance to win an iPad Mini!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini
  • Expectant Parents from Suzanne Hadley Gosselin and Focus on the Family

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 2nd. Winner will be announced November 3rd on Suzanne’s website here.


My Review:

This book has a very cute cover which attracted me immediately and since I am writing my own pregnancy book, I wanted to read it. I soon learned that this book went a totally different way than my book will be going!

This book is written to expectant parents, no matter if they are experienced or not, but more focused on the parents that are #1-3.  It is practical advice for dads and moms learning to cope with the changes that pregnancy brings, how to deal with the annoying comments people make and planning post baby careers.

For me, I found the layout a bit distracting. The chapters are broken up with boxes of text with stories, poems, and interesting blog post quotes. I was more expecting a focus on the physical side of coping, and while that is addressed briefly, it more focused on the emotional side of parenting. The self doubts  that almost every parent faces, the frustration with the physical changes, and false information that others can give you about what to expect, is addressed in here. There are many topics addressed directly to dads, and how they found coping, pitching in and other ways to be the best father possible.

The one thing  I didn’t find as helpful was the breastfeeding advice. There was a suspicious lack of it. I realized towards the end, that perhaps the author did not have a successful breastfeeding relationship, but that was the extent of the advice. There was also advice from a dad that said how they kept their marriage strong was to have the baby not sleep in their room and go on multiple date nights a week.  While this may work for some parents, it can undermine a good breastfeeding relationship, just as simple as that.

I did like the coverage of doulas that were briefly mentioned in the book, although it didn’t cover anything as far as care providers or birth choices in any detail, it was briefly mentioned, which was great! There was a doula even quoted in the book!

Overall, it was a great book for the parents that are readers and looking for some guidance on the new journey they are about to embark on.



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Summer days, school prep and other topics

This summer has been full of good times and as it is coming to an end, I am starting to think about school preparation and slightly freaking out!

I have been doing a bit of reading recently as you can see from some of the reviews I have posted!




P1070891These are a few pictures of our visit to the water slides!

P1070886 P1070883

Then we participated in a street basketball tournament this last week.

P1070934 P1070935 P1070936 P1070931 P1070932 P1070933 P1070929 It was a lot of good fun!

I also had a lot of work that I did with a breastfeeding event as well for World Breastfeeding week.

P1070880 P1070881 P1070882 We had play dough for the kids to play with!

This was a picture of our booth.


We had a lot of fun! But it was a lot of work. I am hoping it helps generate some more awareness and education about doulas!


So, now, it is better for me to start with school preparation, it is really the last thing I really want to do, but I have to do that!



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Second week of school

I knew that this week could get interrupted at any time, so I tried to focus as much as possible on learning and getting things done.
We ended up only missing one day….= )

I didn’t take as many pictures of our bookwork this week! Here are some of the hands on science, geology and others that we did!

Learning in a hands on way!

Refilling water bottle after steep hike

Always a smile!

Science hike to check on our bone….

We had 14 children and 4 mothers…

There it is!!!

Looking and learning about decomposition and maggots

The captive audience

A very active bee hive we walked by quickly!


A tree that I would like to identify…

Also, for part of Russian class we attend a Russian speaking church on Sundays. This past Sunday was a baptism…

I am short so seeing was a problem!

Some of the young people singing

Part of the family group picture afterwards….

We then had a new nephew born, so I had to miss Friday for the labor….
I kept this one tasteful for queasy readers, but we used the placenta as a science lesson, learning about veins, blood vessels and how the baby survives inside a mother.
The midwife teaching the boys…

That concluded the week! We spend a lot of time enjoying our study of Rome, learning new math and reading. My son was working on his first book report and enjoying it!!! We have tried before and it did not go well! So this was something to rejoice about!

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Thanksgiving was a success

Once again, it went well! I love making things ahead of time. I love to cook, but too much at once is just exhausting.

We used these turkey roasting bags though this year, and while it made cleanup ten times easier, they cooked the turkeys too fast and I would have not liked them quite as done. So, next year, no bags or lots less cooking time.

I was blessed with being in the right place when I supposed to be, so did not have to make the drive once again to attend a clients birth.  I feel like sometimes God teaches me something through each birth and this one was no different. I was also blessed to overhear a doctor refer to me as a “very experienced doula.”

We had 17 pies that we made, one that we gave away to a doctor friend and the rest vanished rather rapidly after the meal and the next day!

I just canned 14 jars of apple pie filling yesterday in preparation for more pie baking adventures as the apples were wonderful in pies. I had planned on making them all into applesauce, but the pies were so good, I changed my mind. I won a $25 gift certificate to Amazon from Patti Lacy (Thank you, Patti) and spent it on  a Victorio Strainer…which I am very excited to try out! I have been wanting one for a long time and it went on sale last week too, so I only was out $20 about out of pocket!  I envision lots of use  for sauce in my future!

So, here I sit, still tired and worn out from lack of sleep and other things like lack of my vitamins which I forgot to bring, but I am content, happy and so blessed to have such  wonderful family.


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Did I ever mention how I dislike driving? Yet, yesterday, I drove 2.5 hours to a nearby town and today, I drove back. It is also one of the most dangerous roads….I decided while statistics say that is due to drunk driving and deer related accidents, which I am sure it is, I think it may also be from sheer frustration of cars that slow down, speed up, and go slow in 70 MPH zones and also, just boredom….

Okay, okay….so maybe a little too far! Anyhow, I got to this said larger town and  went to a couple stores….a bookstore for one  and after one other store, realized, you know, I really hate shopping. I did stop to  look at my map and realized I was in front of the  the prettiest thrift store I have ever seen. It was beautiful!  It was a church one too and just lovely. There was the cutest curtains in the windows, that i wish I was talented enough to copy!

I then set out  after checking into a hostel, yes, that is hostel, not hotel… find some food. I wanted to try Thai as my family is not a fan. I went to one and it had a 25 minute wait….I then tried another one….navigating around the people in Day of the Dead costumes in the dark….not a terribly pretty sight….and ended up a tiny place with a friendly waitress.  The food was a bit too greasy, but it filled me up and there was lots of warm tea. I then went and wasted some more time and went into the empty hostel.

It was just me there, but in the middle of the night someone popped in for about an hour and half….not in my room, but outside in the living room, who was a bit noisy.. It was interesting to say the least….I learned….hostels are nice, but I would do it with  a companion next time.

I then with many, many butterflies in my tummy….headed to the hotel. Everything went pretty smooth, I only made one mistake and it was minor..I think..i even told everyone where the bathrooms were and the speaker’s name and did not pass out or anything. And I just pretended I was not ready to pass out from speaking in a microphone. We learned all about Gestational diabetes….and that was very interesting. I have lots and lots of info crammed in my head now! So, I had better get a mom with GD so I can help her now!  Just kidding!!!

Driving home after speaking to a very accented Fed-Ex agent about picking up the box….I was done. The drive home went faster and I am home with my boys, whom my absolutely wonderful sister taught school to today!!! I think she is happy to have just her 2 though…..

Now, I have a huge stack of books to read, lots of school to teach and plan…and plan  on not going crazy with P. basketball  schedule. What was I thinking saying yes to signing up for that?

Now, I have to figure out how to make or buy Pad Thai that tastes good and doesn’t make examine it in suspicion…. Also, finish decorating my son’s room. My husband has been busy painting while I was gone and it is turning out nicely. I think maybe we will go to JoAnn’s tomorrow, we will see if we have time. Also, a through housecleaning is also in order.


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What a day……

Life has been a bit hectic here. On Monday morning, a friend had her home birth here. I was up all night again and am still exhausted. I was just recovering from the last one. She had a beautiful baby girl though… and it went smoothly, did not mess up life much at all, except we have missed 3 days of school.

Today we went grocery shopping. I stocked up on chicken to put in the freezer, which was nice.
Here is the menu for the week:

Wednesday: Spicy chicken/broccoli/pepper stir fry and rice-

Toss cubed chicken with flour, add to hot oil that 2 cloves of garlic was added to. Add frozen red pepper strips and bag of broccoli when browned. Cook until defrosted and hot. Mix 1 c. water with 2-3 T soy sauce, couple dashes of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and 1.5 T cornstarch.  Add to pan and cook until thick. (Also good if you add some orange juice)  Serve over rice

Thursday: BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, salad

Friday: Layered dinner- I saw this variation on a shepherds pie and thought I would try it. You grate the potatoes instead of mash them.

Saturday: Chicken legs, potato wedges, carrots and dip

Sunday: Leftovers….sandwiches, popcorn and zucchini bread

Monday: South American dinner…..rice, salad, small finger steaks, fried egg, tomato salsa without hot peppers and fried potatoes

Tuesday: Arroz con Pollo, Baguettes with Dulce con Leche on it

Today was sort of a red letter day… ever have one of those? It seemed like I was trying to get things done. I worked hard to try to get all this paperwork together to turn in and still after all that work found out they have to have copies of all of the boys birth certificates. Not too bad, except that in one of our moves two of the boys certificates vanished. I replaced one, but still have to the replacement from MN for my second son. Thankfully I remembered I had a copy still somewhere, and so I can use that! Whew! Thank God for people with some OCD sometimes.

After running around grocery shopping, post office, library, turning papers in, I took time to eat, but it ended up only being a yogurt and handful of cereal. By 6 pm, I was shaky and dizzy and not thinking straight. Even getting to eat, I still was not okay and got distracted while backing up and put a dent in the bumper of my van. Yeah. I still feel sick about it.

I then almost did not go to a meeting to decide about a book club at Borders, but was really glad I did as it relaxed me to talk about books and made me feel happier. I think it will be fun!

I signed up P. for basketball and am a bit stressed at the extra stuff it is adding, but he is so excited and having alot of fun with it. So, that is good! Now, if we could just learn about how to not find joy in tormenting and teasing little brothers, we would be perfect.

I talked to a friend today who met a lady in AK. at the library, they were talking and found out that the lady in AK has a sister who goes to the same church as me. She has seen me and knew who I was….who knew…? I am famous for being an American who goes to a Russian speaking church.
Also, she said I was small and skinny….somehow that does not sound as romantic as slender…I like slender better. Oh well, at least it is not small and round.

I read a really good book the other day. It was called “The Healer’s apprentice” if you are a fan of Medieval  times or the Princess Bride, you should check this Cinderella type story out. It is by Melanie Dickerson. It was a great book!

Believe it or not, I have actually been so busy, reading has been hard to find time for. I am stressed as a result and it needs to slow down.  Yesterday, I dropped off my son for his science class two hours too early. Yes, really. Thankfully it worked out, but I knew I was going to smash something with the lack of sleep.

Hopefully Friday, my window in the boys room will be fixed, we will go buy a different kind of plumbing snake tomorrow and fix the clogged drains we have and yes, that is plural….one the boys washed chocolate cake down and soap among other things and the other is clogged with hair. I will also be buying a hair trap cover.

Next week, I am going to a conference in Missoula and maybe a mini vacation….not sure how it will work, but hopefully it is fun and I learn all about Gestational diabetes.

So, Good night to you all……here is to a good night and a brighter tomorrow, with no arguments and lots of lovely children who do exactly as they are told.

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Is it possible to be so tired…

you feel ill? This past week I worked really hard as a doula for a client and  missed alot of sleep and meals. Hospitals generally do not allow patients in labor to eat, although there are exceptions, so when you are with the patient and they are not eating, you almost have to sneak to eat and you have matters of minutes sometimes.

I enjoy this job, but the recovery period is a killer! The baby was beautiful and reminded me how I miss having a little baby, but for sure did not  miss labor!

Right now I am simmering a pot of tomatoes on the stove down to sauce, hopefully to probably can as I do not have freezer room. The bowls and pans of fresh tomatoes were overwhelming to me and we have not  gotten a hard freeze yet, although it has been cold and the plants are wilted and I think it is the end of the tomatoes.

We are working on studying Canada and so one place suggested maple syrup. So we had pancakes for dinner with sausage and peaches. I tried this new recipe  made with oatmeal and sour milk. I have alot of sour milk too. It was interesting as it has 1.5 cups oatmeal and only .5 cup flour with 2 cups sour milk.  It was filling and a different dinner for the boys.

Anyhow, I am fighting a cold, exhausted and wishing that I could curl up and sleep like for 24 hours straight.

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Interesting article today….

It was discussing the links science is finding between autism and use of pitocin in labor. As a doula, this interests me, although I am sure they have much further to go with it. It was saying they started to wonder as they found that the ‘love hormone” oxytoxin can sometimes be used to  help autistic children. They are wondering if the artificial contractions, combined with a high dose of artificial oxytoxin is causing the brain to somehow not function correctly. It went on to explain different scientific reasons as to why and how this could be.

It makes me wonder sometimes as it seems like more and more, I am seeing women who are being encouraged to be induced and they are told there is no harm at all to the baby.   I know we all know that usually  when we use artificial means of induction, we are causing the need for other interventions, which in turn can cause other complications. This is pretty much a fact, but what if there was something that it is doing to the baby?  Should we not weigh the risks  to see which ones are worse?

Many inductions are because of moms who are tired of being pregnant, or overdue, or fear of a large baby, or even a fast labor….and not being able to reach the hospital in time.

Who knows if pitocin is causing  autistic children, but if there is a possibility, I think before we choose this intervention we should make sure we weigh the risks very carefully and inform ourselves before making the decision to listen to the doctor and accept that it causes no harm to the baby.

I find it interesting sometimes when medical care professionals seem to hand out info, even false info with an air of assurance and knowledge and the patients accept it because it is coming from the doctor. I remember asking the doctor if it was okay to take something during pregnancy. She assured me it was. Later, (because she was a good doctor) she must have doubted herself as she went and looked it up and found out, it was really not recommended and I should avoid it if at all possible.

I think sometimes it is a good idea to request more info on medication, especially when there is an unborn child at risk or an infant if you are breastfeeding. Sometimes doctors make mistakes too, and they appreciate you asking them for more info  as it helps them to double check at times. If they get offended or snap back at you, they are not a doctor worth their salt.


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